Newborn Lab Puppies: How To Care For Them In Their First Few Weeks

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Taking care of puppies is a challenge, especially if you have to bottle feed them. Newborn lab puppies: how to care for them in their first few weeks?

Newborn puppies are very small and helpless. While lab puppies are relatively large, they still usually weigh less than a pound. It takes a few weeks before they can begin taking care of themselves.

Taking care of a small puppy is a lot of work, almost like taking care of a newborn baby. If a puppy doesn't have its mother with it, it must be fed once every two or three hours. You have to feed it very often, keep it warm, help it go to the bathroom, and notice signs of sickness.

Raising a newborn puppy is a very rewarding experience. The bond between you and your dog is often stronger if you raise it during the first few weeks of its life.

I have raised lab puppies without their mother before, and while it is tiring, it does not require your frequent attention for very long. The dog will grow out of infancy and become less helpless quickly. Before long, your lab will eat solid food from a bowl and no longer take much of your time.

The Importance of Mother's Milk

A newborn puppy needs its mother's milk to protect it from bacteria. The mother's milk contains antibodies, protecting the puppy from infection during its vulnerable first few days. The milk also contains colostrum, which helps newborn puppies develop the power to fight infection.

You should leave the puppies with the mother if at all possible. The mother can keep them warm, feed them properly, and keep them alive. It is not easy to raise newborn puppies as well as their mother can.

How to Raise Puppies With Their Mother

If the mother is with the newborn lab puppies and taking care of them properly, raising puppies is easy. You have to take care of the mother more than the pups. Feed the mother high-quality food to ensure her health and the health of the pups.

Sometimes, not every pup will have a chance to feed often enough. If the other pups push the smallest one aside, you may have to bottle feed it to keep it alive.

What if the Puppies Are not With Their Mother?

Sometimes, a mother dog cannot raise their puppies. The mother might reject some of their puppies, or they might even die. In that case, a person has to do their best to keep the puppies alive.

While raising puppies yourself is not ideal, you can take good care of them. Talk to your vet and get the right supplements. Keep the dogs warm and make sure the canine milk substitute you give them is high-quality.

What if a Puppy Won't Bottle Feed?

At worst, a puppy will refuse to take food from a bottle. In that case, contact your vet right away - your puppy needs to eat. Sometimes, you might have to use a stomach tube to feed it.

How Often Should a Puppy Eat?

Newborn lab puppies should eat once every two or three hours. Older puppies only need to be fed four times per day, but that is not nearly enough for the youngest.

Puppies Cannot Digest a Lot of Food at Once

Young puppies and somewhat older puppies have very small and sensitive stomachs. It will upset a puppy's stomach if it eats too much at once. You have to give them small, frequent meals.

Labrador Retrievers are not good at controlling their appetites. An adult lab will often eat until it becomes overweight if you feed it too much. Lab puppies will give themselves indigestion by eating too much.

When is a Puppy Ready for Solid Food?

A puppy is ready for a mix of solid food and milk formula after three or four weeks. Initially, moisten any solid food with milk formula. Puppies more than a few weeks old need a mix of milk formula and moistened solid food.

A dog will also start chewing on their bottle at a little less than a month old. This means the dog is ready to have some semi-solid food. Try starting with a mix of canned soft dog food and milk formula to introduce your dog to solid food as gently as possible.

Between four and six weeks, solid food can replace milk. Your dog can eat solid food out of a dog bowl like an adult dog at that age. You should feed them four times a day and not too much each time.

When Do Baby Dogs Grow Teeth?

Just like humans, dogs first have a set of baby teeth and then a set of adult teeth. Dogs are born toothless as babies are. A dog has 28 teeth, eight more than a human.

A dog starts growing teeth at only two weeks old. It keeps its puppy teeth for a long time, until the 8th or 10th week. Veterinarians call baby teeth deciduous teeth.

Even after a puppy starts getting adult teeth, it takes a long time for the second set of teeth to replace the first. Dogs grow 42 adult teeth, compared to 32 for humans. The adult teeth appear in a certain order:

  • The first adult teeth appear at two months
  • Incisors usually appear first, after 2 to 5 months
  • Premolars appear after 4 to 6 months
  • Molars appear after 4 to 7 months
  • Canine teeth sometimes appear last, after 5 to 6 months

Caring For a Puppy Growing Baby Teeth

While there is some pain involved in teething, it isn't as bad as some people think it is. A baby dog can usually get through it without real suffering.

If your puppy still has an appetite and is curious about the world it is likely fine. However, you should talk to your vet if you worry that the dog is in more pain than usual for a teething dog.

Giving your dog a soft toy to chew on during this stage is a good idea. Don't give it anything too hard. Chewing on a toy can alleviate the dog's teething pain.

Get Your Puppy Used to Having its Mouth Touched

It is easier for your puppy to get used to things early in life, including having its mouth touched. Touch your dog's teeth and gums gently. This will make dental care by you and your vet easier later on.

Remember that teething takes a long time. The first baby tooth comes in at two weeks; the last adult tooth comes in at seven or eight months.

Veterinary Checkups

Even if everything seems to be fine, you should take your lab puppy to the vet at six weeks. Get your puppy's health checked and ask about vaccinations.

New Puppies and Vaccines

Canine influenza, parvovirus, distemper virus, and many other diseases can harm vulnerable new puppies. You can't get them vaccinated right away. Instead, a vet gives them a first round of vaccines at six weeks and a second round at eight to twelve weeks.

Dogs receive their vaccinations later than the first few weeks of life. Vaccines for a lot of diseases are often not given for three months. A lab puppy receives the following vaccines at the following ages:

  • As early as three months for rabies
  • Between 6 and 16 weeks (3 doses) for distemper or parvovirus
  • At least nine weeks for Lyme disease
  • 6 to 8 weeks for canine influenza

How to Help Puppies Go to the Bathroom

One thing a lot of people don't know about puppies is that they can't go to the bathroom on their own. Normally, their mothers help them do this after they feed them. If their mothers aren't with them, you will have to help them.

Get a moist cloth and press it on the puppy's anus and genital area. This will allow the puppy to urinate and defecate.

It seems strange that a puppy can't go to the bathroom on its own, but it can't. It is crucial that you help your puppies do this, usually after each time you feed them.

How Much Should a New Labrador Retriever Puppy Weigh?

Some breeds are tiny at birth, others much larger. A newborn puppy could way two and a half ounces or two and a quarter pounds. Puppies grow fast - some breeds gain up to 10% of their body weight each day.

Newborn Labrador Retriever puppies weigh from 8 to 24 ounces at birth. They cannot even hear or see when they are first born. Dogs mature faster than humans but are just as helpless in infancy.

A baby Labrador relies on its mother for everything, and without the mother, you have to take very good care of it just to keep it alive. However, lab puppies don't stay tiny and vulnerable for long. A lab goes from weighing 8-24 ounces at birth to 3-5 pounds at one month.

About THE AUTHOR

Mark Brunson

Mark Brunson

Mark is the founder of Everything Labradors and a husband and father of 3. He enjoys spending time with his family, including his dog Molly, a Labrador/Golden Retriever mix. He’s a big fan of the outdoors and loves to travel to new places.

Read more about Mark Brunson